As I wrap up my prep week, I double check that my four systems are in place that keep me productive, low-stress, and balanced. So far we’ve talked about three of them – my morning routine, my time budget, and my Ideal Week schedule. The last system is the most simple: my todo list.
I’ve been though many iterations of keeping track of all of the things I need to get done. Productivity books talk about complicated systems that sort things my goals and projects and contexts and priority. I’ve tried them all. There are a million and one apps out there. Most of them are pretty pricey. All of them promise to get you into a state of flow. None of this worked for me.
Why? Maintenance. The systems took about an hour a day to keep organized,
and another hour at the end of the week to clean up around the edges. It’s not fun, it takes massive amounts of energy and focus, and the second something changes you’re scrambling to update the system.
Now that I have my time blocked out according to my priorities, my todo list can be pretty simple: a single sheet of white paper with a handwritten list. I use the front of one page to manage everything for the week. The fanciest part of it is that sometimes I group tasks by project or category. Usually not.
When I get to work in the morning, I draw little circles in pencil next to the most important tasks for the day. Then I check my Ideal Week time blocks and get to work.
Depending on what the time block says I should be working on, I scan the list for related tasks and I get them done. I cross out the tasks as I finish them, and I add more when they occur to me.
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